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Author Topic: African breadfruit extracts may provide next sleeping pill  (Read 8660 times)
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Francis Umeoguaju
Expert in Bioscience Issues
Posts: 657

« on: October 22, 2011, 07:33:40 am »

It is better known for its seeds, which are used in making beverages and porridge meals. Recent studies suggest that eating meals rich in breadfruit could be a better option to sleeping pills in inducing sleep and treating mentally ill patients. CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes.

SLEEPLESSNESS has become the order of the day. Sleeplessness or rather insomnia has been linked with the rising cases of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart diseases and cancer.
Little wonder the sleeping pill market is experiencing a boom. However, sleeping pills have potentially harmful side effects, including diarrhoea, constipation, dizziness, parasomnias. Parasomnias are behaviours and actions over which people have no control, like sleepwalking.
But Nigerian researchers have found that extracts of African breadfruit (Treculia Africana) could be the next best natural sedative without side effects, thereby making it useful in the treatment of mental illness.
The researchers from the Faculties of Pharmacy Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State found that the crude extract possessed sedative effects, which may be through increase in the activity of GABA in the brain.
GABA is gama amino butyric acid, and is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and the central nervous system, and has the effect of reducing excessive brain activity and promoting a state of calm.
The study published recently in Ethnobotanical Leaflets is entitled “Central Nervous System Depressant Properties of Treculia africana Decne.”

The researchers wrote: “The study was carried out to investigate the central nervous system activity of Treculia africana.  The central nervous system depressant properties of Treculia africana were determined using: Novelty – Induced Rearing and Grooming, Locomotor activity, Ketamine-induced sleeping time and effect on rectal body temperature.

“The crude extract produced decrease in rearing, grooming and locomotor activity. It also potentiated ketamine-induced sleeping time and produced hypothermic effect in mice. The crude extract possessed sedative effect, which may be through increase in the activity of GABA in the brain.”
Treculia africana is a tropical tree crop belonging to the taxonomic family Moraceae. It is also called wild jackfruit or African-boxwood.  In Nigeria, it is called ukwa in Ibo. It is afon in Yoruba; ize in Benin, Jekri and Sobo; izea in Ijaw; and ediang in Efik.
Analysis indicates that the seed is a rich source of vegetable oil (10 per cent), protein (17 per cent), carbohydrate (40 per cent), as well as several minerals and vitamins, and is a possible commercial raw material for the production of vegetable oil, pharmaceuticals, soaps, perfumes and paints.
The present study was led to because of claims by local herbalists that the plant was useful in the treatment of mental illness.
The study established the acute toxicity of the crude extract of Treculia africana by the determination of LD50. Acute toxicity test was carried out in order to determine the dose of the crude extract that will be administered to the mice. LD50 is the dose at which mortality occur in 50 per cent population of the experimental animals. The higher the value of the LD50 for a substance, the relatively safe the substance is assumed to be. The value obtained is not toxic to the animal.
The crude extract of Treculia africana was examined for novelty - induced rearing (NIR) in mice. NIR is a behaviour of rodents in novel environments. The behaviour is employed by rodents as one of the survival strategies in assessing the environment for food, protection and possibly escapes. Measurement of the frequency of rearing in rodents and the modification can therefore be employed in assessing the crude extracts for both sedative property and central nervous system stimulation.
Rearing has been described as the vertical locomotion activity when the animal stands on its hind leg while raising up its forearm in the air or placed on the wall of the cage. Drugs that stimulate the Central Nervous System (CNS) increase rearing behavior, while those that depress the CNS inhibit rearing behavior. In this study, the crude extract inhibited NIR showing that it has sedative effect.
The crude extract was examined for novelty - induced grooming (NIG) in mice. Grooming is an important behavioural component in animals and is associated with de - arousal state of the CNS. De - arousal indicates absence of stimulation. Drugs that have depressant effect inhibit grooming behaviour. Grooming is described in animals (rat or mice) as face or head washing with forearm or body grooming with mouth. The crude extract reduced NIG this suggests that the crude extract have depressant effect on the CNS.

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